Thursday 28 June 2012

Remembering Nostalgia...

...and an Award

Two months have passed since I completed the A to Z of 1950s/60s Nostalgia. It was crazy and manic but I miss it in a sadistic sort of way. So when I received a 7 x 7 award from Rebecca Bradley, asking me to flag up seven of my posts under seven specific categories, I decided to use it as an excuse to revisit my A to Z month of nostalgia. 

First of all, a big thanks to Rebecca Bradley for the award. Rebecca used to blog at Life in Clarity but she now has a shiny new blog home. It’s called Rebecca Bradley, Murder Down to a Tea and it promises to be a bloody affair if the headline artwork has anything to do with it.

Rebecca has asked that in return for my 7 x 7 award I must post up a link to seven of my posts using the following criteria. In my usual obedient way I’ve bent the rules just a little so that I can include aspects of the A to Z that covered more than one post, if you see what I mean...

1.  My most beautiful A to Z Nostalgia piece: T is for Titles: I’m not talking about one specific post here. I loved creating the title for every one of the posts. It took far longer than was necessary but it was fascinating to do. I used the Microsoft WordArt facility which even allows you to colour a letter in with a piece of clipart of your choosing. I love them all but my S post shows a good variety of alphabet styles. 

2.  My most helpful A to Z Nostalgia piece: I suppose I wasn’t trying to be helpful but in E I did talk about education, eleven plus and equality and you can’t get much more helpful than that!

3.  My most popular A to Z Nostalgia piece: According to the stats it was O - Old Spice After Shave and Op-art. I’m not sure if the pictures of Op-art drew in the viewers. I do love all that psychedelic op-art stuff. This was closely followed by G with a piece about Gangs including Teddy Boys and Mods and Rockers.

4.  My most controversial A to Z Nostalgia piece: Every post started with a smell to get you in the mood. Well, people and homes did smell very different in those days! I think my body odour mentions were the most controversial. U had Underarms for the Smell and Underwear in the Memories [plus this fabulous photo of Marlon Brando who was reputed to be the first to wear a t-shirt as outerwear rather than underwear!]

5.  My most surprisingly successful A to Z Nostalgia piece: My biggest surprise was the Comments. By halfway through I had a few people competing to be first on the blog in the morning to get their additional memories posted up. A special thank you to my sister Rifka and to Pat Posner from Write up the Hill who, I believe, are still discussing their 1950s memories via email! You can see them chatting in most of the Comments. In my K post they’re discussing Kiaora drinks and forgetting all about talking to me! 

6.  My most underrated A to Z Nostalgia piece: According to the stats it was W which is a shame. I’d been looking forward to writing about Watch with Mother

7.  My most pride-worthy A to Z Nostalgia piece: That’s easy. It has to be my Z post because I was so proud [and relieved] to have completed it! 

[A note to type-font purists: Yes, there are two different styles of fonts in this blog post. Blogger threw one of its wobblies this afternoon. Some of the paragraphs are in a different font and I can't get it to change to the same style. Neither can I understand why it has done it. *sigh*]

Friday 22 June 2012

A Wow View

We've been to visit Sister and as the visit coincided with Mr A's birthday we decided to treat ourselves. This was the view from our hotel bedroom.
Lyme Regis Bay from our bedroom in bright sunshine
It's the kind of view you don't tire of.
Lyme Regis Bay from our bedroom as the sun sets
We sat in the hotel garden in glorious Dorset sunshine and pretended to be Lord and Lady Whatsit.
We entertained Sister. 
We entertained Niece and Nephew-in-law. 
Morning coffee? No problem. 
Afternoon tea? Certainly, madam, would that include scones and jam? 
Game of croquet anyone? Errm... How do you play croquet?

And when we fancied some exercise, the hotel gardens led onto a steep but very pretty cliff path which took us down to the seafront and Lyme's famous cob. My only problem was climbing back up that path again. [Note to self: Must get more exercise!]

But now we're home again and if we want a cup of tea we have to go and put the kettle on ourselves and as for cooking dinner *sigh*. I could get used to being waited upon!
[In case you fancy a similar treat, we were staying at the Alexandra Hotel in Lyme Regis.]

Sunday 17 June 2012

I'm Going To Moodle

I know what I’m going to do this August. I’m going to moodle. [Don’t you just love these off-the-wall words!] Fiona and Kaspa from Writing Our Way Home are running a Summer Moodle Course and as my inspiration has been flagging recently I decided that this would be just the thing to give it a boost.

The word moodle comes from a quote by Brenda Ueland;
“...imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” ~ Brenda Ueland
An inspiring view of our garden
[tirelessly tended by Mr A]
I love the idea that being inefficient can be productive. It goes against everything we’ve had drummed into us as we grew up. And the same can be said for happy idling, for dawdling and as for puttering... when haven’t you wanted to putter and not feel guilty about it? Oh yes, this is exactly what my over-burdened, befuddled brain needs.

Fiona and Kaspa were the creators of the January Small Stones Project. You can see my small stones here. I did say that I would continue writing small stones even though the project was over but, surprise, surprise, not a single one has hit the computer screen since 31st January. Now that I’ve enrolled for the Summer Moodle I might write a few small stones before the course begins to get myself thinking in the present. For those who don’t know how to write a small stone, it’s all about noticing a small thing/event/scene and recording it in words as a moment in time. Like I say, it’s all about living in the present.

One of the quotes included in the Summer Moodle Course information is by Natalie Goldberg. I often dip into her book, Writing Down The Bones. It feels like she’s speaking directly to me. The Goldberg quote that Fiona and Kaspa have chosen hits me right in the face;
“Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

Some of the work for the Summer Moodle will be taken from Fiona Robyn's book, A Year of Questions: How to Slow Down and Fall in Love with Life. That sounds suspiciously like yet another book that's talking right at me!

So it’s going to be a summer of living in the present, of de-stressing, of slowing down, of happy idling... in fact I’m just going to moodle. Who’s going to join me?

[I'm adding an addendum: I'm not actually going to be doing nothing in August even though some of you who commented seem to think I am! Fiona and Kaspa are running a therapeutic online writing course that will rejuvenate my creativity. Sorry if you thought I was inviting you to do nothing with me. It's going to be a packed month of writing! Are you still up for joining me? Then visit Writing Our Way Home.]

[My Inspiring Writing Den update: After your kind comments on my previous post we've chosen Liqueur emulsion (a pale pinky-beige) for the walls, I'm planning curtains with an inspiring green splash of colour to them and yes I will post up a picture when it's finished but it may be some time yet. The sun has just come out and Mr A would far rather be in the garden!]

Monday 11 June 2012

How to create an inspiring writing den

All writers know how difficult it is to face a blank page. That first sentence is the hardest to form even though [or maybe because] you know it will probably get deleted once you’re underway. I have the same kind of problem with beautiful notebooks. I want to save them for that ‘special idea’ that I know will never appear because special ideas only ever materialise when I’m writing and not when I’m gazing lovingly at beautiful new notebooks.

I’m guessing it’s different for artists which is why the phrase ‘a blank canvas’ means something exciting, full of promise, an as-yet-undrawn idea. But I’m a writer not an artist and I have a blank canvas that’s scaring my creativity to pieces. Mr A is in one of his DIY moods. Normally this would make me groan in desperation, sawdust trodden in everywhere, bare floorboards where there should really be carpet, heaps of brick dust beneath drilled holes.

Mr A at work
His current DIY project is Daughter’s bedroom. She used to have a divided-off section with a hand basin. It was meant to be a dressing room. It was used as a dumping corner. She left home years ago and Mr A has finally removed the partition and basin and he’s fitted a brand new window overlooking the garden. As soon as I saw it I knew what I wanted to do with it. It’s going to be my  writing den. Perfect!

The carpet has been disposed of, there are no curtains at the windows and the walls are almost ready for painting. My job is to choose the colour scheme. Aaagh! It used to be lavender but that will be painted over with my new, inspirational colour... when I choose it! 
  • Do I go for a pale colour on the walls or something rich and warm? 
  • Do I select a plain carpet with a rug, a patterned carpet or one of those mottled ones? 
  • Do I go for plain curtains or ones with a hint of pattern? 
  • And should the colour scheme be beige and green or yellow and cream or... 
I can't decide and Mr A is waiting to buy the paint. *sigh*

Have you got a writing den with that perfect colour scheme for creative inspiration?

Friday 8 June 2012

Help! I shrunk my wardrobe!

My wardrobe is having a malfunction. I’m not sure who or what is to blame but I can’t get into any of my clothes. I’ve listed out the possible culprits below and I'd like your help to find the guilty one. 

CULPRIT 1: Are my washing machine programmes too harsh? Some of the programmes take over an hour of swishing and whirling. It can’t do the clothes any good at all.

CULPRIT 2: Could it be the fault of the tumble dryer? I can’t deny that the tumble dryer is getting more than its usual amount of use lately. I know that tumble drying is bad for the environment but it just won’t stop raining and we have a rather inferior whirly-gig washing line that only dries a couple of items at a time. [I think I’ve finally convinced Mr A that he has to give over a little of his precious garden so I can have a decent washing-line like I used to have before we moved into this garden… I mean house. We did choose the house because of its garden!]

CULPRIT 3: Is it the quality of the clothes in the shops? There was a time when you could always rely on certain brands of clothes. Those were in the days when they were made in England and had the St Michael’s label on them. In fact, a lot of them were made round the corner from where I grew up in Leicester. These days I don’t think any of the clothes are UK-made and I’m sure that the quality has suffered as a result.

CULPRIT 4: Or is it... *hesitates to mention this item as it's so unlikely* could it possibly be... middle–age spread? In the unlikely event that this turns out to be the culprit does it mean that I should be going for the larger sizes even though I’ve been buying the same size of clothes for over 30 years?

So, which is it to be? Do I need a new washing machine, should Mr A be giving over some of his garden for a clothes line, should I start buying my clothes elsewhere and break the clothes-buying habit of a lifetime or am I getting fat? 

Please think carefully before you answer!!!

Monday 4 June 2012

I interviewed my cats

Some people think that cats are all the same. They’re not. They each have their own distinct personalities and, with Anne Mackle’s permission, I’m going to ask my cats the questions that she passed on to me as part of the Kreativ Blogger Award on her blog, Is Anyone There?  Their answers will prove that the only thing my cats have in common is the colour of their fur.

In case you’ve not met my girls this is Mabel:

And this is Charlie:

And here goes with the questions:

1. What is your favourite song? [I know! Cats don’t sing but my two have very different voices, look...]
Mabel: “Brrrrp”
Charlie: “Meeeoooo”

2. What is your favourite food?
Mabel: “Whiskas Bite N’Chew.”
Charlie: “Whiskas Bite N’Chew today but tomorrow I may have gone off it.”

3. What ticks you off?
Mabel: “Humans trying to cuddle me. Yaaark!”
Charlie: “Closed doors. I have to open all doors so I can explore.”

4. What do you do when you’re upset?
Mabel: “I drop down into a little gap at the back of the desk and I hide.”
Charlie: “I find someone’s lap to sit on.”

5.  What is your biggest fear?
Mabel: “Humans cuddling me, Yaaark!”
Charlie: “Having to go back to that homeless cat shelter!”
Mabel: “Oh yea, that as well.”

6.  What is your attitude to life?
Mabel: “My face often looks grumpy but I’m not really... unless a human tries to cuddle me. Yaaark!”
Charlie: “I love this place and everything’s so fascinating that I have to explore, unless it’s scary. I’m not as brave as Mabel.”
Mabel: “Soooo true! It’s always me who chases off cats and squirrels while you sit and watch through the window!”

7. What is perfection?
Mabel: “Watching birds from under a bush in the garden.”
Charlie: “Stretching out in the conservatory with the sun on my tummy and sleeping on the bed while the humans have an early morning cup of tea.”
Mabel: “How could you do that, Charlie? Sitting on their bodies! Yaaark!”

8. What is your guilty pleasure?
Mabel: “Bringing a live mouse into the house and watching the humans race round trying to catch it.”
Charlie: “Opening cupboard doors after the humans have spent ages fitting new cat-proof catches.”

Wouldn't it be a boring world if all cats were the same!

Do pop over and visit Anne sometime soon at Is Anyone There? We have a lot in common and we only found out through blogging. Isn’t this blogging world a fascinating place!